Commentary, News

This week’s top five on NC Policy Watch

1. New data highlights troubling racial disparities in Wake County school discipline:
NC’s largest public school system under pressure to modify its deployment of School Resource Officers

Nearly 70 percent of law enforcement referrals made in Wake County schools over the last two years involved African American students.

That overwhelmingly high rate comes despite black students making up less than a quarter of total student enrollment in Wake County Public School System (WCPSS). [Read more…]

2. General Assembly sends HB2 “repeal” to Cooper’s desk: Governor, some Democrats support effort in face of impassioned progressive opposition

In a strange and remarkable replay of the controversial one-day special legislative session that took place one year ago last week, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation today in a matter of hours that purports to repeal HB2 – the state’s infamous LGBTQ discrimination law. Surprisingly, the proposal also appears to have the backing of Governor Roy Cooper, who issued a terse statement of support last night.

Under the terms of the new legislation, which was only formally made public for the first time this morning in a hastily organized meeting of the Senate Rules Committee, the state law established by HB2 is officially repealed. The new bill, however, also goes on to make three additional changes to state statutes that equality and civil rights advocates and other observers quickly and loudly condemned as a betrayal. [Read more…]

3. Important Medicaid news you might have missed

You probably missed the news that the members of the overwhelmingly Republican state Senate finally came to their senses Monday and voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and provide health care to hundreds of thousands of people.

One Republican Senator said it was simply the right thing to do and that the state had “citizens who are uninsured and hospitals that are suffering.”

Another Republican told a reporter that he couldn’t believe it took the state so long to embrace Medicaid expansion.

There’s a reason you likely missed this monumental decision. It didn’t happen in North Carolina. It came in the Kansas, in the state Senate where Republicans hold a supermajority.  [Read more…]

4. High Court ruling raises the bar, ensuring disabled students receive a meaningful education

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a ruling last week that will empower parents of disabled students to make sure their children are getting a meaningful education and hold public schools accountable if not.

The court looked at the question of whether public schools – under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – should be required to provide students with disabilities an equal education to other students or just an adequate education. [Read more…]

5. Duke researchers warn of methane’s dangers, while the university presses for a new natural gas plant

The scientists who work on climate issues at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University belong to an esteemed crowd. Their studies on the environmental, economic and public health perils of fracked natural gas have been featured in major peer-reviewed journals. Their findings on the role of methane leaks from natural gas in harming human health and driving climate change have earned the school scientific renown.

Air pollution linked to methane, among other so-called “short-lived” pollutants, “is literally killing people,” Drew T. Shindell, professor of climate sciences, testified before Congress in 2014. “It is the leading environmental cause of premature death,” leading to more than seven million each year worldwide.

And yet Duke University is proposing to build a $55 million, 21-megawatt natural gas plant on West Campus, near Towerview and Wannamaker drives, a little more than a half-mile from the Nicholas School. [Read more…] ***Bonus posts:

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